Mentoring is sharing advice, guidance, experience and knowledge typically to someone less experienced. A successful relationship is based on clear expectations, trust and mutual understanding.
Informal versus formal
Mentoring can be formal or informal, the occasional chat with someone more experienced is an informal relationship. It is common in formal relationship for both parties to document an agreement or contract between themselves. Therefore the document forms the outline of the relationship to provide clarity towards achieving the desired outcome.
Many businesses run mentoring programs to give their employees the opportunity to get involved in something different. Therefore mentoring is a powerful way of helping individuals develop. As a result, both the mentee and the mentor can benefit from widening their network and sharing their information and ideas. A newly qualified teacher can benefit from being mentored by a more experienced professional. As a result the help they receive means they integrate into the new environment much more quickly.
Qualities of a mentor
The mentor must have patience, understanding and empathy; essentially their role is based on listening and encouraging. Above all, even in a formal relationship, the mentor should not tell or instruct their mentee. Therefore the role is about guidance and offering advice when appropriate. The mentor should have experience of the subject, skill, organisation or profession. Good communication skills are critical, listening and knowing when to speak and offer advice are key.
Mentoring is a very powerful way of sharing knowledge, ideas, skills and experience. Above all, for it to be successful, there must be trust and clear understanding of the expectations.